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Now what? A peek inside finding inspiration.

It's 7:25am. Technically, if I was writing, this is a late start for me. I'm still working on getting back in that routine. Usually, I try and sit down at the laptop by 7am, guaranteeing at least an hour of writing time, with a buffer of an extra hour if I really get drawn in. Right now though, I'm not fully in the swing of writing yet. There's a problem.


Ideas are the hardest part of this entire writing thing, I think. Pushing through the middle book burnout, coming up with a satisfying ending, trying to start with a hook that will draw people in; these are all challenges along the way, but to get there in the first place, you have to have an idea. Ideas are the lifeblood of the entire creative process, and right now I seem to be at an impasse. The problem isn't too few ideas, nor is it too many ideas, but the want to choose the "right" idea.

Let's recap. Bound To Parish came out two weeks ago tomorrow. In that time, it's gotten a fair amount of attention (at least for a small author like myself) and I've been riding the high of knowing that everything came together in a way that people enjoy. It's good to know that all the work I put into that book paid off, at least in an idealistic sense. Am I anywhere close to breaking even on the expenses that I've thrown at it to help make it as good as it is? No, not even close. But the product was the most polished and refined novel yet, and I think that shows in the writing, the reviews, and the overall reception it's gotten.

If you're reading this and haven't grabbed one yet, here:

Anyway, with how good it's doing, I'm obviously eager to keep producing. I'm still thoroughly enjoying finding my writing voice, experimenting with settings and characters and craft and all of that, but my problem comes from wondering how to follow up something well received. Do I continue my trajectory of exploration, or do I refine what I seem to do well already?

Let me explain.

Ideas, for me, seem to come from other media that I consume. For example, Bound To Parish was inspired by True Detective, Season 1. I've mentioned this before. That was such a good season of television: the characters, the depth of the story, the location. It all came together very well. Obviously, I twisted and turned the story into my own, but the atmospheric nature of the tale was something I wanted to experience in book form.

My next inspiration came from watching The Fall of the House of Usher. Again, that was such a fantastic series. They way they incorporated Poe's works into the episodes, tied the entire story together, and gave us characters that were all well grounded, while wildly flawed. I've wanted to write a "haunted house" story for a while now. I've also wanted to write a short story compilation (ala Stephen King's, of which I grew up with). After seeing The Fall of the House of Usher, an idea grew in my head. Why not write a haunted house story, with an overarching plot, where each room is attached to its own separate short story?

It's a good idea, I think. The execution might take some work, making sure all the beats hit and the overall narrative is worthwhile, but I think it would be a fun thing to put together.

However, a new thought crept into my head. Should I focus on writing another crime thriller instead? That's what I've been working on, in varying degrees, since I started this entire writing thing. True crime is a passion (don't judge me) and sticking to the roots of my passion seems safer. It seems more "on brand", and a focus on building the brand is also something I need to consider. While I'm still in the process of finding my audience, taking a drastic turn into a horror-esque short story book may hurt.

This is where I'm struggling. I've started on the house idea, trying to find the characters and see where they take me, but I can tell that something in my head isn't clicking. I've started thinking of a way to turn it into a more crime thriller style story, but I'm not sure I like that idea as well. I am also still, in part, living in Pointe DeLeaux and trying to distance myself from that setting.

Overall, I think the answer is to wait a bit. As much as I want to jump headlong into a new project (my once a year publishing deadline is already hanging over me) I also think I need a bit of time to reset my brain, rebuild some creative fluid, and fully settle into an idea.

The good news is that this downtime, when I let my head churn through thoughts in the background and wait for something to congeal, is usually one of the more exciting parts of the process. I never really know what will form up there, and when it does I just need to capture it as best I can.

And then it's back to work.


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